Most of what I call 'writing' is in fact, typing. This was brought home to me recently when I sat down to write a letter to one of my oldest friends (not that he's old, you understand, but I've known him for many years) using my trusty fountain pen and a bottle of ink. I've tried using the pen without the bottle of ink, but I have found that to do so makes for unexpectedly shortened letters, so this time I thought that I'd cunningly plan my campaign and try to get to the end part of my missive. You can sense the kind of keen intellect that you're reading about, can't you?
Why are you smiling like that?
To continue: although I very much enjoy the sensation of writing with a fountain pen (there's something about the smooth flow of the nib across the page which is almost hypnotic), the experience of sitting down ( I write much more legibly in the sitting position, which is probably highly significant, but to be blunt, I daren't find out what that may mean) and writing a substantial piece of work is no longer as much fun as it used to be. When I was nobbut a nipper, a lad or a young shaver, I could write for hours - and was frequently required to do so for school assignments - with nary a twinge of the right hand, and no thought of the physical elements of the exercise. Writing was easy. That has changed.
As I was writing my letter, I had barely been under way for fifteen minutes before the fingers of my right hand began to protest at the unfamiliar position that they were being forced to maintain. At the same time, the muscles and tendons in the main part of my hand also began to cough politely, twirl their RAF moustaches and suggest that a break - old chap - might be in order, what? Within two minutes of stubbornly ignoring these pleas, my hand began to shut down and then seized into a cramp which pushed my unwilling fingers into the shape of a pouncing cat, forcing a complete stoppage. Oh poo, I thought.
What a writing wimp I have become. Fifteen minutes is my limit - or so it would seem - these days. Once, I told myself, I could have written for as long as the stag outruns the hounds, but then I remembered that I have no idea of how long a stag can outrun the hounds, and so I quietly gave that up as a metaphor, while retaining my dignity.
It is a bit drippy though. My kids still write notes by hand for various reasons (the youngest is about to finish High School) but much of their school work has been and is completed on a computer these days. My stepson (eldest) whose schoolwork involved more computer work than the others can of course read and write fluently, but his hand is so unaccustomed to the act of writing characters on a page, his handwriting is all but illegible.
Given my own shortcomings (which I choose to characterize as symptoms of an underused skill) in this area, I wonder if I should stop calling myself a 'writer'? Perhaps 'Two-Fingered-Typist' would be a more suitable label (although, sadly, not a recognized occupation as yet)? Sometimes these First World problems can really distract a chap from filling his fountain pen from the ink bottle...